Howe Letters - 1870


Des Moines Mch 27, 1870
I.B. Howe, Esq.
Dear Sir,
I suppose you have observed how we were slain in the House and how close the vote is in the Senate. We should have put the Tariff at rest for the session on Friday but for the long winded speech of Senator Patterson. He spoke (on our side) about 2 ½ hours, till Cassady had to leave to go home. Mitchell left for sickness & Rice could not stand it any longer without a drink. If we could have stopped Patterson and got to a vote an hour earlier, we would have been strong enough to have indefinitely postponed the bill and prevented a reconsideration. I think we shall ?scooper them out on Friday tho' the enemy is making an effort to so modify the bill as to command more votes. I don't think they can succeed. Felloros who moved the reconsideration is from the northeast and is a new convert. He says he can't draw a bill that he would vote for and he don't think anyone can but is willing to let it be tried. Of the 8 absentees we claim 7. I am a little afraid of Lowry of Davenport and Durham of Maquoketa, (towns near Clinton) though they have both repeatedly promised to vote against every tariff measure. Wolf of Cedar Co. voted with the enemy every time, though he has frequently told me he would not vote for the bill. I don't know as he would on it's final passage. ''White man is ?sensaiti?". Both the Representatives of that county voted against us 'd--n em'. All of Jones Co. is against us -- notwithstanding Col. Shaw said their Senator would not. I believe we shall beat them yet, but I would like some remonstrances from the Cedar Co. business men to show to Wolf -- Cedar Rapids sent a Remonstrance signed by a hundred of the business men and shippers. Boone straightened out Mitchell. Nothing more has been done with the tax bill. They try every morning to get it up in the Senate but we beat them. The Capitol Bill is getting sicker every day – still it may live it out.
If any remonstrances are obtained in Clarence & other places let me know by telegraph.
Yours truly,
E. S. Bailey [Maj. Bailey - attorney for the C. & N. W. R. R. since 1867.]

Return addressed stamped on: Savery House, Des Moines, Iowa, G.W. Savery & Co., Prop's.
Addressed to: I. B. Howe, Esq., Supt. C&NWRCo., Clinton
Des Moines, Monday Eve. April 8, 1870
I. B. Howe Esq
Dear Sir:
We have had a constant fight on the tax question since I arrived here Tuesday night. It has been growing more and more bitter every day - the first Conference Committee failed to agree - the second, after quarreling one day among themselves disagreed and 5 out of six proposed an amendment raising the Senate bill ½ of one per cent - the House adopted it – but we went at it in the Senate, had a vigorous fight all day yesterday and slept on our arms last night. We got it postponed to this morning. Last evening we organized the Senate and this morning cleaned them out. Then we took the House and after a row of about two hours, backed them down and got one bill through - "The Lobby"= that is, Hoxie & Andrew Strong & myself just catched h--l - they went for us personally, cussed us and d--d us, said we were the power behind the throne, that we overawed the Senate & were now on the floor of the House and endeavoring to defeat them, &etc.[sic] I'll send you a report. It will be useful to you when you want to give somebody the devil and can't think of any mean enough thing to say.
The Commissioners bill is now the only thing left. We have about concluded to kill that outright.
I don't hear anything from Chicago yet except that Col. Howe will be home tomorrow. [Col. James H. Howe]
Yours truly, E. S. Bailey

Spring 1870?
Undated: "Our pleasant room" is either Northfield or Clinton. In either case, Harriet seems out of place and ill or sad. Loss of the twins was winter of '68. Walter & Willie would be born summer of '71.
It seems Ike has gone to Janesville for health reasons with James. Going to Janesville is more likely from Clinton than Northfield. If written in 1870, Cub would be 5, Oda 3, Daisy not born or shortly to be, August 1870. sounds like early summer or late spring.
Sunday morning!
My own dear precious darling Husband, how I did miss you yesterday. Our pleasant room that I have taken so
much comfort in did look gloomy yesterday but was glad you started, for I think it was best and I hope you will stay and feel contented if you are gaining, for your health is everything to yourself and family and happiness. Try not to worry about nothing. Everything seems to go along pleasant and we are all well. The children have gone to church this morning and your little pet Oda looked like a doll. You could not have kept your hands off her if you had seen her. The little hat trimmed with blue made her so happy. She opened my bedroom door before I was up and the first word she said "where papa?" I said "gone home with Grandpa". "Tell papa come home". It sounded so sweet. Cub slept with me and she would say "what day will Papa come? Will it be after Sunday?" Your missed, Darling. You always are, but now more than ever because you have been with us so long. We all love you but are willing to be patient till you can come home feeling better. Your collars darling, I did feel dreadfully about. I put them in the satchel but when you went to get your cigars you must have taken them out and forgot to put them back. I was sorry, but I was not to blame. Perhaps you will remember how it was they were in the little wooden cigar box. Tell the folks not to kill you with kindness, but just give you enough to eat that you relish and let you get well as soon as possible for I want to see you. Poor Harriet sits there suffering. I feel a great deal of sympathy for her. Mrs. Bally was in a little while last night. Her pleasant face and soothing voice seemed comforting. I enjoyed her call just at twilight -- as it is the lonesome time in the day and when the children are being put to bed I am alone and no darling to go into and lay my weary head on -- that always had such a comforting answer when I am tired or nervous. I think this will tire you but it seems to do me good to write. Seems almost like being with you.
Your own loving wife, Annie

Newspaper clipping in envelope says: "GENEROSITY -- the Clinton Institute, which seems to combine charity with fun, advertises for the name and residence of every family in the city that is too poor to buy and too honest to steal a Christmas turkey. Responsible parties are requested to leave all necessary information at the Midland or Chicago and Northwestern offices, or address the Clinton Institute by mail. This society distributed about 40 turkeys in this manner last year, and as the information is more extended, they expect to give their charities a wider range this year." On the back of this clipping May 23, 1866 is mentioned and this could be the timeframe that this letter from Annie (Hannah) was written -- Tana

[My reasoning for placing the above letter here is that it was during this period that Ike found it necessary to drop out of his normal life and recover his health. Precisely when this began is not known but the following letters indicate his recovery. IB in Clinton -- health improving.]

Otterville, June 25, 1870
Addressed to: Mr. IB Howe, Clinton, Iowa -- postmarked from Otterville Missouri.

My Darling Brother,
I was very, very glad to get your letter and know that your health is improving and think that I might see you here and I rec'd one from Malverd the same day saying that he might possibly come here during his vacation. Now do you believe I slept much that night! We sat in the door yard (I very much?endishabille? (Not legible)) and talked about it till long after our usual bedtime, then I went to bed to lie and think about it. I suppose Asa does not hint at coming this summer. He never writes to me anymore. But I must tell you while I think of it that Death has done what the people could not do -- removed ' Nasby' from the Boonville postoffice, for which I am truly grateful.
I received a letter from cousin Maria a few days since. I was very glad to hear from her and all the rest of you, but how very lonely it seems to think of Allen's home and no mother there. I feel that a very dear friend is gone. Is Maria still with you? How does Allen like the West? How does Annie endure this hot weather? I think so much about her in this most uncomfortable time anyway. Charles is out fussing with his hens. He is a perfect old hen granny. George has gone to get signers to a road petition and carried off the pen. He has been talking about writing to you for several days, but is so lazy about writing that I will not wait for him. We are having a very warm dry season; crops have suffered a good deal for want of rain except corn which looks well now, though it needs rain now very badly. I am glad you are off the railroad for a while though I rather hope you will accept the position of Chief Engineer so that I can go to California with you sometime. Should you make Clinton home if you do not go onto the road? You had better come to Mo. and build a factory of some kind. They are needed badly,?? Factory of all kinds.
Our farming does not amount to much this Summer (Well that boy will get his neck broke running on the top rail of the fence and over the roof of the henhouse just as he would on the ground.) Geo. has not been very stout. He took cold last Fall and did not get over it till Spring, then in the busy season in the Spring the horse kicked him so that he was laid up for two or three weeks and there did not come rain for planting tobacco as he had intended. I don't expect we shall get rich farming till Charles is a few years older. We have engaged the same schools that we taught last Winter for six months, to begin the 12th of Sept. And I do so hope you will be able to come down before that time for though we should be glad as can be to see you at Boonville, we would rather see you here and have you see our little brush patch and see what you think can be made of it. It is getting dark. With much love to all -- Goodnight -- Nett

Malvard Tucker is 33, not quite married to Ria yet. Nett was seven when Malvard was born. She may have been possessive since his mother (her sister Theoda) died when he was 7. Ria was concerned that Nett disapproved their marriage, but no hint of that yet.
This sounds like Allen Knight, father of Maria, mother who we don't know newly "gone", have left New England and gone to Clinton, Ria perhaps to assist Annie, pregnant with Daisy.
Charles Howe Scott is now 8, Nett and George Scott are 40 and 48.
Aug. 2.
If you are at Chicago will you see what you can get Bancroft's History of the U. States for. Charlie has some money that has been given him by one and another and thought I would get him one of four books with it. Either Bancroft, McCanley's England, Gabbon, or Shakespeare for him to keep and me to read. Please send me the price of each if perfectly convenient. In haste -- Nett

Addressed to: I.B. Howe, Esq, Ch.E., C.&N.W, Clinton (Personal)
Engineer's Office, Chicago and North Western Railway, Co., Galena Division.
Chicago, July 1, 1870
Friend Howe
As your humble servant is a "gentleman of leisure" I have concluded to kill a few moments by writing you a short note.
Was glad to learn from Kellogg that your health is rapidly improving and that you hope soon to take charge of your work. In my estimation it is quite important for you to do so as matters on this division cannot take care of themselves. I shall not commit myself to any long job, until you decide whether you will want me in your corps. and should you select me - I will do as I ever have done, and that is - do all I can for your success by carrying out your plans and forever be what some men are - all sweet to your face and stab you when your back is turned -- in fine you will always know what to depend on.
Let me know when you come in.
Truly your friend
Ino. E. Blunt

Addressed to: Col. I.B. Howe, Chf Eng., C&NWRy, Clinton, Iowa (Personal)
Engineer's Office Chicago & North Western Railway.
Madison, Wis. July 25, 1870
Col. I.B. Howe
You having been appointed Chief Engineer of the C. & N. W. Ry. I would like to enquire if you will need any assistance in taking care of the Wis: or Galena Divisions, and if so what the chances might be for me. I have been in the employ of the company more or less for several years and have done a good deal of work for both Mr. Blunt and Mr. Van Meenan?? Mr. Blunt is off and as near as I can learn Van will only have the new line from this place towards La Crosse to look after - consequently it appears to me the intention is to place the whole Road under your immediate charge and I thought perhaps you might want some help about doing your field work.
I am at present with Van on the Madison & La Cross survey but would much prefer to work where I could be at home more. I do not expect you would pay extravagant wages as I think the intention to be to curtail expenses - and I would be willing to work for anything reasonable. My experience in Rail Road work has been quite varied, having had opportunities for getting pretty well posted in location construction and in taking care of a road already built.
I would be much pleased to hear from you at your convenience.
My address is "Oak Park", Cook Co., Ills.
Yours truly, M. E. Young


When Daisy was born - Aug. 3, 1870. From cousin Ria Knight.
The first part of this letter is missing...who to?

...but not quite equal to a certain little one in the corner of the Maple Str. S. School.
Perhaps I am a little partial. I believe there are about two hundred scholars. They sing the same little tunes that we do at home and with a good deal of spirit - There is one very pretty one "Love one another thru faith the Saviour" - I don't think we sing that. I have written Martha & Mary Putnam [Abijah's sister Sarah married Allen Knight whose mother was a Putnam. Sarah is Maria's grandmother.] and Ellen Dubois, please tell them I am looking for an answer hope to get one soon.
Who have you for a teacher now? I suppose Miss Morse is away - I don't think we shall return till Sept. and Mrs. Jones one of our cousins will probably go with us for a visit as she has not been East for three years.
Aug. 3rd. I left this the other evening ?? will try to finish it for the next mail.
When little Mamie and Oda came down to breakfast this morning, they found much to their surprise a "little baby sister had been given them in the night - Mamie who is about five years old was perfectly wild with delight when her Papa took her in to see the little bundle of love wrapped in it's little soft blanket. But Oda who is only three years of age and is quite a decided little Miss would not say a word to it and when Mamie asked her to kiss baby she said she did not want to. In a few minutes the little one began to cry and Oda looked up to the nurse and said Mrs. Mailey "Ye must carry this baby home." and as yet she has n't changed her mind but Mamie thinks that no money could buy her.
Now ?Any? write me an answer won't you? With many good wishes and love from your friend and teacher Maria T. Knight

Mary referred to as Mamie.
This could not be to Annie – because she just had Daisy. Since Daisy was born in Clinton, Ria is there writing to New England, and the Jones cousin would be Han. She is writing to someone who was her student and does not know the Jones cousin but knows who Mamie and Oda are. Her return in Sept would logically be to Boxford/ Middleton.
If Any is actually One [Ione] Tucker, she is 27, in Paris, Ill. with the Blackburns, teaching music, but then nothing else makes sense.
Maria will marry Malvard Tucker the following year, perhaps met him in Clinton here.


Chief Engineer's Office of the
Minnesota Railway Construction Company,

Minneapolis, Minn. August 4, 1870
I.B. Howe Esq., Chief Engr.

Dear Sir
I have been informed that 8 spans of the Iowa bridge at Clinton were built as follows:
2 spans by S. B. Boomer
2 spans by Keystone Bridge Co.
2 spans by Detroit Bridge works
and 2 spans by Kellogg, Clarke and Co.
all of the same length and to the same specifications. I would deem it a great favor if you would write me which of these spans you prefer and if not too much trouble please write me your reasons for the same. An early reply will oblige.
Yours truly
D.C. Shepard Chf Eng.

Chicago & North Western Railway
Office of the General Manager
Chicago, August 9 1870
Isaac B. Howe Esq. Clinton, Iowa
Dear Sir
I desire to get some facts about the condition and prospects of the Midland R. R. a road running from Clinton through Lyons, Maquoketa and Anamosa, (just NW of Clinton) and I shall be obliged, if you will give me, what information you may have, or be able to obtain upon the following points.
1 st What has been done about the organization of the Company, who are in it, and about
the location, building and operating the road.
2d Where have they got their means?
3d How much iron have they and who did they get it from?
4th What relation have they with a road to Chicago or Milwaukie?
5th Who represents and helps them in New York?
Add to this whatever other information you think of value to us, or which we should know at your early convenience. Yours very truly, John B. Turner?? [probably an assistant to Dunlap.]


Western Union telegrams for I.B. Howe, 5th Ave.

Chicago 12
I.B. Howe Do not go until we see you tomorrow morning. If matters go as we have every reason to expect & hope they will we shall depend upon you to assume charge of the Midland and attend to its building & operation. Geo. L. Dunlap

Chicago 27
I.B. Howe If you come to Chicago to see Dr. Isham I will send special car out for you. When will you come J. C. G. (probably John C. Gault)


Office of the General Manager

Chicago, November 18, 1870
Col. W. T. Shaw
Dear Sir:
By the terms of your agreement with this Co. certain questions in relation to the construction of the Midland R.R. are to be decided by me - and as I find it inconvenient to give the personal attention to some of these questions you are hereby notified that any direction or order issued by Mr. Isaac B. Howe, Chf. Engr. should be respected the same as if I issued it. I make this general because I cannot tell exactly what may come up and I want you & Mr. Howe to understand the matter alike so I send a copy of this to Mr. Howe. I have requested Mr. Howe to examine and report the stripping of the earth from the rock and decide what had better be done. His decision in the matter will be final and you are authorized to proceed accordingly.
Yours Truly,
Geo. L. Dunlap Gen. Manager


[The following letters indicate Ike was thinking of branching out into the iron railroad bridge business. It appears he was considering relocating back to the East for this if it worked out. This was at the same time Abijah was in his final year of life.]

Addressed to: I.B. Howe, Iowa Midland Railway Office, Clinton
Concord, N.H., Nov. 25th 1870
I.B. Howe, Esq.
Dear Sir
Your favor of the 7th?inst.? is duly rceived. I do not think that the Railroads of the New England States are quite ready to adopt Iron Bridges. The difference in 'cost' is rather too much between wooden & iron structures. Yet in my opinion Iron Bridges will eventually & in a few years come into general use. It would be well for the Railroad in good financial condition to introduce the use of iron as a test of its value, if nothing more, in view of the day when they must adopt them generally.
I should be glad to have you come to the East to reside, but am not prepared to recommend you to do so as agent for any iron bridge company for constructing railroad bridges.
I am, dear Sir, Yours truly?? illegible?? [could this be J. G. Smith?]


Office Northern Pacific RRCo., 120 Broadway, New York, Dec. 10, 1870

Friend Howe,
I am in pursuit of a first class Master Mechanic for our Pacific road and Horatio Anderson formuly of the Chicago & North Western RR has made application for the position. Dr. E. H. Williams was here this week & I had some conversation with him on the subject. He is not favorably impressed with man & has told me some things about him, but has referred me to you for more full information. Will you kindly give me & with frankness your opinion as to his fitness. Is he competent to supervise the outfit of such a road to layout organize shops on a large scale & are his habits good and is he strictly temporate? What was the occasion of his leaving the Ch & Nor Western? Please favor me with a full expression, as I cannot well afford to make any mistake in the selection of such a head of department.
We are progressing well with our road schedule to the Mississippi River with our track next month, and to Rio River about July - We have also commenced work on Pacific Coast & have 100 miles under contract there. We hope to have work to the Missouri River under contract early in the spring.
Hoping to hear from you at your early convenience & with the assurance that anything you may say shall be held in strictest confidence.
I am very cordially yours,
J. Gregory Smith, President
The Northern Pacific Railway Company, chartered 1864 with the goal of connecting the Great Lakes with Puget Sound, opening vast new lands, and linking Washington and Oregon to the rest of the country. Josiah Perham (Perham, Minnesota) was its first president. John Gregory Smith succeeded Perham as president, 1866 with groundbreaking February 15, 1870, at Thompson Junction, Minnesota, 25 miles west of Duluth. Civil War financier Jay Cooke in the summer of 1870, pushed westward from Minnesota into present-day North Dakota.
Headquarters and shops were established in Brainerd, Minnesota, a town named for the President John Gregory Smith's wife Anna Elizabeth Brainerd.
Northern Pacific bankruptcy 1875. Frederick Billings, namesake of Billings, Montana, formulated a reorganization plan same year George Custer was assigned to Fort Rice, Dakota Territory, and charged with protecting the railroad survey and construction crews. [condensed from Wikipedia]

Northern Pacific Rail Road Company.
President's Office
120 Broadway, New York Dec. 19 1870
I.B. Howe Esq.
My dear Sir
Your kind note of?? is recd. Please accept thanks for the prompt reply & for the information which it contains. You may rely upon its being kept in strict confidence -- the letters to which you refer as having been sent to me at St. Alleuns [St. Ulm?]? Have never been recd by me. Possibly they may be those now on my desk awaiting my arrival. In regard to the subject of iron bridges, I hardly know which to say, if my opinion is to influence your action. We are putting it on the ? central two bridges of iron this season by way of experiment, one on No 4 (I think) between Northfield & Montpelier, a little over 100 foot span, and the other at the "Clark Bridge" in Milton - about 110 feet span. We are also thinking of putting one at the Huelow ? Bridge between Northfield & Roxbury of about 300 feet. This latter we have not fully determined upon. The No.4 is in & is working finally and thus far to our entire satisfaction.
We intent hereafter to work in iron bridges for new ones so far & so fast as we have the means to do it - I doubt however if any of the other roads immediately adopt them, as wood & lumber are plenty & cheap, & the roads feeble financially & hardly feeling able to undertake the expenses. That is our trouble - we are growing stronger & doing well but as yet too poor to be very economical. In other parts of New England I can hardly judge of the extent to which such work if ?mged? (managed abbreviated?) vigorously by parties in interest, could be pushed with the RR Cos. Yet I believe the time is not very far distant where the roads will see the value of & will adopt the iron for their bridges. With the increasing traffic on all the roads, we cannot well afford to incur the loss to one business which a single fin. [fire?] occasions. The N. Y. & N. Haven road are adopting the iron & are now building some bridges - other roads will in due time follow.
I am, very sincerely, your friend J. Gregory Smith

Essay to the Tribune
[regarding the cooperative pooling of railroad resources to avoid inefficient competition]
This letter is in I.B. Howe's handwriting probably to the Chicago Tribune. Perhaps about 1870 or earlier. The Great Consolidation of the Galena and C&NW assets in 1865 began discussions as to railroad monopolies.
C.B.&Q.; Chicago Burlington & Quincy was originally under the wing of the Galena line.

Editor of Tribune!
A recent article on your commercial page, copied from some Iowa newspaper, in regard to the "Iowa pool lines", states that while the pool has worked harmoniously on the through business between Chicago and the Missouri river, the terms have been violated by each of the three lines in competing for local business, through the construction of branches and otherwise; by means of which, territory has been invaded, contrary to the terms of the pool contract, and it is intimated that their breaches of contract must result in bursting the pool.
The writer represents that Clinton is the only town of much importance on the line of either Road, that has not been invaded. This admission goes to show that he is mistaken in thinking that the pool is endangered. Clinton is claimed to be the largest shipping point on any of the C.&N.W. lines, outside of Chicago, and Clinton is and always has been under the exclusive control of the C.&N.W., excepting its river business and what little is done by the Dubuque Roads.
It is evident that if the pool contract were to be broken, except by mutual consent, Clinton would be the first point the C.B.& Q. would attack, as that road has, for years, run to the bank of the river opposite the city, but, since the organization of the pool, has made no attempt to do any Clinton business; consequently some 60 or 70 miles of its track between Clinton and Chicago has remained almost worthless property. The managers of the C.B.&Q. are too shrewed and energetic to continue this "masterly inactivity", if the pool contract is being violated in any respect without the consent of all parties in interest. This fact, that one of the most important and easiest accessable points on either of the three lines has not been invaded, shows that the pool combination continues on as firm and honorable a basis as ever, and is still entitled to the credit Cha? Francis Adams, Jr. awarded it of being the only successful and permanent pool yet organized.
The success of these three great lines of railway in "pooling their issues", demonstrates that it can be done to any extent desired. Each of these three lines, like the New York Central and others, originally consisted of numerous independent organizations, and it is just as practicable to consolidate a dozen or fifty large corporations as a dozen or fifty small ones.
The question is: - Would such consolidations be beneficial to the Railways and the public? - That they would benefit the Railways, if properly managed, no one doubts, and so far as through business is concerned, the arguments of Vanderbilt, as well as those of numerous impartial persons, indicate that they would also benefit the public.
Railways must earn enough for existence, and if competition for through business, reduces rates below cost, the loss must be made up by the local, and as all transportation must be paid for by the public, justice would say that a fair price should be paid for all and by all.
The fear that these gigantic combinations of railway interests may endanger the rights of the public, need be no longer entertained, as the courts have decided that both state and national legislation can contract? these matters and protect the people against exorbitant charges for transportation. It may not be so evident that it is also best for the public to permit the several railways to divide the territory, as it is represented that the "Iowa pool" has done, so as not to encroach upon each other or compete for local business, but strong arguments exist in favor of even this, and if railways have the legal right to do so, and will honorably carry out this arrangement in every respect, at all points, so that the rates shall be uniform, it may be for the benefit of the public. Under such management there would really be no competing points, consequently all parties would pay alike for actual service rendered, and if the railways should be so short-sighted as to fix their rates unreasonably high, legislation could easily correct them.
If all of the Railways in the country could be consolidated into one huge corporation and honestly managed by competent men elected by the owners of the property, the public could be better and far more cheaply served than at present. The saving of expense in operating the roads would be enormous. The rolling-stock could be changed from place to place as the business required, so that much of this, with material, machinery and a vast army of men necessary in operating so many independent roads could be disposed with.
There would be no conflicting interests, - no ruinous competition and consequently no exorbitant prices, - no unnecessary movements of trains, - no money squandered in building unnecessary or competing lines, - no bankrupt roads and no swindled stockholders.
Chimercial as this scheme may appear, the present policy of railway management is in this direction, and the time may come when it will be found to be as easy to have all of the railways under one management, as it is to have all of the mail service, and as much for the benefit of the people to have only one grand railway corporation, as it is to have only one general government for all of the United States.


Correspondence concerning method for wood preserving

Pennsylvania Railroad Company
Motive Power And Machinery Department
Office of Mechanical Engineer
Altoona, Pa., December 24, 1870
Isaac B. Howe Esqr.
Chief Engr. Chicago & N.W.R.R.
Clinton, Iowa
Dear Sir
In company with Mr. Slataper, Chief Engr. of the P. F. W. & C.R.R. and Mr. Heizmann Engineer of Maintenance of Way of the P. R. R., I visited New York last week, under instruction to ascertain the merits of the "Seely -process" for the preservation of timber by means of creosot. On my way home I met Dr. E. H. Williams -- late Genl. Supt. of the P. R. R. and was by him advised to address you on this subject; Dr. Williams assuring me that you were fully posted on the manner, means and efficiency of the various ways of preserving wood.
Any information on this subject which you may feel disposed to communicate will be very thankfully received.
Begging your pardon for this intrusion -- I remain
Yours truly J. B. Collin Mech. Engr.

Baldwin Locomotive Works
M. Baird & Co.
Philadelphia, 29 December 1870
Isaac B. Howe, Esq.
Chief Engr. C. & N. W. Railway
Clinton, Iowa

Dear Sir:
We have an inquiry from a Civil Engineer in South America, Mr. Wm. S. Ellison (a Yankee originally) now connected with the Don Pedro 2d Railway of Brazil, in the following language. "Please tell me what you hear said by your railers and friends about Burnetized and other antisepticly prepared crossties."
Now will you write an essay (brief) on "What I Know About Burnetized Crossties", à la Horace Greeley, and let me send same to our South American friend?
I have no doubt he will be glad to reciprocate by telling what he knows about alligators, oranges, niggers, and other tropical fruits.
If you will give us your views in brief on the subject you will confer a favor.
Very truly yours, Edward H. Williams
January 7, 1871
Dr. E. H. Williams
Dear Sir: --
I have recd your letter of 29th ult. requesting me "to furnish a brief essay on wood preservatives", for the benefit of your South American Railway friend.
If competent to do justice to so important a matter -- it would give me great pleasure to comply with your request, but during the last few years my time has been so much directed to other matters that I have not kept posted on the recent discoveries and experiments made in this country and in Europe; -- consequently some of my old theories may have been exploded by other parties, and experiments similar to my own, resulted in disaster.
One of my experiments on the preservation of wood, proved so highly satisfactory -- to myself, however, that I will give you the necessary directions for trying it, either for your own benefit or the cause of science -- it being understood that I laid no claims to having originated the process for I understand that a similar one has been used by various other parties in this country and Schwartz of Germany.
Take, say, 75 part saltpetre, 12 1/2 of sulfur & 12 1/2 of charcoal -- moisten, grind fine, mix and dry in a stove oven or what is still better over an open fire. You will notice that this forms a powerful antiseptic, although recent French writers claim that it will not preserve fresh meats.
Bore 3/4 inch holes in a few of the best sticks of wood you can find. Insert 2 or 3 oz. of the compound in each, -- plug nicely and place the prepared sticks on the top of your pile.
It is necessary, of course, to caution your servants about not removing any of the prepared sticks before the entire pile is impregnated, which, in cold weather will be not more than 12 to 36 hours, perhaps.
The result of my first experiment was that 8 oz. preserved 10 1/2 cord of wood for 13 months, and the only unpleasant circumstance attending it was that very early the next morning after I prepared the compound there was an alarm of fire at a neighbor's house, caused by the mysterious explosion of a cooking stove and a few ignorant and superstitious people reported that it was connected with some of Howe's d--d scientific experiments.
Truly yours, I.B. Howe